The Canal du Midi, built in the late 1600s, stretches from Toulouse to the Mediterranean port town of Sete, and is considered one of the greatest construction works of its time. I’m staying near Toulouse so thought I’d take a canal boat ride to learn a bit more about it, and to see the city from a different perspective.

Many of the canals are lined with enormous plane trees, so as I walked along the water’s edge to meet my boat I was very grateful for this cool green canopy. It is so very hot in France at the moment!  I can understand why these paths are popular with cyclists, joggers and walkers – it was a gorgeous walk, despite the heat.

The cruise took us under many lovely old bridges and through three locks (or écluses in French). The locks enable the boat to be raised or lowered to pass from one section of the canal to another. It was fascinating to see how they worked and to hear how their design has improved over the centuries. Even the locals are captivated by the canal boats. As we passed, many people waved and stopped to take photos.

Toulouse is a beautiful city with many old red terracotta brick buildings, giving it the nickname ‘la Ville Rose’ (the pink city). I’ve really enjoyed my time here – exploring the old centre and wandering along the banks of the magnificent river Garonne. I really hope to return one day. Who knows! Next time I might arrive on a canal boat.

Along the Canal du Midi

Around Toulouse